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This blog is a behind the scenes look at the Roman Baths in Bath. We hope you enjoy reading our stories about life surrounding the Roman Baths.

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Roman engineering, Roman Baths and National Science and Engineering Week = the perfect link.

Roman engineering, Roman Baths and National Science and Engineering Week = the perfect link.

For National Science and Engineering week I designed a table on Roman engineering. Despite not having much knowledge of engineering or Roman history I chose Roman engineering as it linked with the event and I hoped it would provide an interesting and fun filled table with lots of information and a number of activities. The aim of the table was to demonstrate and explain the concepts of Roman engineering particularly here at the Roman Baths. The topics I chose to cover were sluice gates, lead pipes and oak piles at the Roman Baths and a general overview of Roman engineering. The Roman Baths is a perfect example of Roman engineering as many aspects is still in use and on display, so it was not hard to find sources of information and examples at the site.

There was a lot of information provided on the table and there were also a few activities for visitors and these included wooden blocks. These blocks allowed visitors their own chance to build an arch, to see if they could build an arch like the Romans. This proved to be a popular challenge for many of the visitors who came to the table. The challenge of the blocks was to see if they would stay in place once the base was removed. Once people had a go of the game they could handle an actual block that was used to make arches and feel the weight and shape of it.

The Roman arch over the main drain of the Roman Baths

 Due to the weight and length of lead pipes it was hard to give examples, however the collections team found a small part of lead piping which gave visitors an opportunity to handle the object. Roman engineers enclosed the hot spring with an irregular stone chamber lined with lead.

Lead pipes were used to carry hot spa water around the site using gravity flow.

An original lead pipe in situ by the Great Bath

To demonstrate the use of oak piles, we had a display made for us with replica piles and sand as it is not possible to see the oak piles. The piles served to combine the ground and provided a convenient working surface from which the mud and build-up in the spring could be dug out. For sluice gates there is an opportunity at the Baths to look at a real one at the Great Bath , it was not possible to creat a replica as it would involve use of water which was not practical.

The East Baths with piles of bricks from the hypocaust

The table proved to be a great success and even had a visit from the Mayor of Bath who enjoyed playing the game of building an arch. Designing and creating this table was a challenging but enjoyable experience and it taught me much knowledge of the Romans and their engineering skills.

The drained Great Bath showing the lead lining


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